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How Fast (or Slow) You Lose Weight Depend on These 9 Things

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Everyone wants to lose weight fast but the thing is, the weight you gained didn’t come on overnight, and it’s not going to leave that way, either.

So, then, how fast is realistic? As a general guideline, most experts say weekly losses of 0.5 to 2 pounds are doable. “A pound a week is really good for most people. However, many people think it should be easier than it is. They lose 5 pounds in a month and think that’s not enough. No, that’s an amazing job!

And, what’s more, it’s healthy. After all, when you lose weight too fast, you risk losing weight not just from fat, but also from lean tissue such as muscle.

So if you’re trying to lose weight on your own, and about a pound per week is your goal, what determines if you get there? The following is a list of nine surprising factors that influence how fast (or slow) you lose weight:

Your current weight. Contrary to popular lore, your current body mass (aka weight) is the No. 1 determinant of your metabolic rate, or how many calories you burn per day; the larger you are, the higher your metabolism. To lose weight, you need to consume fewer calories per day than you burn.

So, someone who weighs 300 pounds and burns 2,800 calories per day can cut more daily calories to lose weight faster than someone who weighs 150 pounds and burns 1,800 calories per day.

Your weight-loss history. Have you lost weight in the past? Unfortunately, you’re already at a disadvantage. That’s because when you lose weight your metabolic rate drops lower than it should, based on pure body size.

For example, if two women both weigh 180 pounds, but one of them used to weigh 250, all else being equal, she will burn 25 to 30 percent fewer calories per day, he says. That makes her efforts to continue losing weight far more difficult.


Your lifestyle. How many changes you make determines how much outcome you can get from them. Translation: If you’re already living a pretty healthy lifestyle, the needle is likely going to move more slowly. However, if you’re starting from zero, you have a lot of room from improvement in your nutrition habits, activity levels and likely other lifestyle factors such as sleep and stress that impact your weight-loss success.

How far you are into your weight-loss journey. Most people lose weight more quickly at beginning of a diet. While the degree of changes that people are able to make in the first days and weeks of a weight-loss plan certainly has something to do with it, plenty of other factors play a role.

For instance, as mentioned earlier, while you lose weight your metabolism slows, making future weight loss more sluggish, which tends to water down your motivation to keep going!

Lastly, it’s important to remember that in the early days of weight loss, most drastic drops in the scale aren’t due to fat losses, but rather drops in water weight. This is most true in people who reduce their carbohydrate intake. That’s because when your body stores carbs in your liver and muscles it stores water molecules along with them. So, when you reduce your carb intake, your body’s water levels decrease, and it shows up on the scale.

Your hormonal health. Hormones are chemical messengers, instructing cells within your body as to what they should and shouldn’t do – and that includes losing weight.

In women specifically, the hormonal factors that can affect weight-loss rates are plentiful.

If you believe hormonal issues may be having any negative effect on your weight-loss efforts or overall health, talk to your doctor.

Your workout of choice.  Aerobic exercise burns calories and makes our heart healthier, but you also need to build some muscle, or just work to maintain the muscle you do have when you lose weight. When you lose weight some of that weight naturally comes from muscle – and when muscle levels decline, so does your metabolism, slowing your future weight-loss results.

To build lean, metabolically active muscle, integrate strength training at least twice weekly into your workout routine.

Your genetics. The biggest thing that makes a difference in how different people lose weight is genetics, It is estimated that 20 major genes and 200 or more minor genes impact fat storage and weight maintenance.

However, knowledge is power! Simply talking to the people in your family can give you a lot of insights into what you may have inherited.

Baby smiling in bed with eyes closed and arms out.

Your sleep habits. The amount of sleep you get makes a large difference in your metabolic rate and how fast you are able to lose weight. People who sleep less than seven hours per night tend to have slower metabolisms.

Meanwhile, no matter how many hours you log per night, if that sleep is poor quality, it can also affect your metabolism and increase your body’s cravings – which can slow your weight-loss progress.

Your age. As people get older, it becomes harder to lose weight, and when people do lose it, it comes off slower.

As mentioned above, muscle is a large contributor to daily metabolic rate. And losses of lean body mass are a primary determiner in how your metabolism slows throughout the years.

However, this natural decline doesn’t have to be part of the aging process. It can be offset through proper and progressive exercise and strength training as well as a diet that is rich in muscle-building protein.